|Image from the KLM magazine.|
It's rather a surprising thing for a northern girl like me to be writing this post. I was always rather dismissive of people who returned to the North East and went on and on about; London, New York, Australia etc Returning to Middlesbrough will always feel like coming home; family, friends, football and the hills (god I miss the hills).
It is my 10th anniversary.
I left Middlesbrough 10 years ago. I cant quite believe that I have been living in this tiny, busy, brilliant country for ten years. Yes I can talk about the time flying etc but not now. In the last ten years this place has really become home and I am proud to call it that.
Here are my top 10 reasons why I love living in Holland.
1) Community: There is a real community spirit. The Dutch are great at organising events and keeping up traditions. Every year our village will host special days where the community come together and during the summer every town hosts their party week. There is a real sense of belonging and pride in these events with everyone taking part.
|Kings day celebrations.|
2) National Pride: a great example of this is Kings day when the whole country turns orange. Music events, games, markets, street entertainment ensures that there is something for everyone. The rest of the year the Dutch need no excuse to hang out their flags; birthdays, party days, passing exams, births, they proudly display their colours.
3) Work/life balance: Most people work part time many men included (responsibility for childcare is not left to woman) men take papa days to take care of their children. Working hours are shorter or many people work flexi hours to have Monday or Friday free. People here work to live they don't live for work.
4) Bikes: everyone bikes, everywhere. There is something liberating about the freedom of jumping on your bike to go to the shops, beach, work or school. It is reminiscent of childhood. The rush hour is quite a sight to behold as is the lines and lines of bikes at the stations.
5) Honesty: Dutch people are the most honest people you can meet. This can be a little startling for us reserved English lot but if you ask a question you will always get an honest answer. Dutch people will ask questions about finances, personal issues, health etc that English would not. But you always know where you stand. Problems are spoken about, brought out in the open, dealt with and forgotten about!
6) Food: when I first came to Holland I missed lots of English foods and I still need a fix of fish and chips and a corned beef pasty when I visit the UK. But I have grown to love Dutch food too; creamy cheeses, stroopwafels and bitterballs are firm favourites in our house. Don't expect a massive freezer section in the supermarket. The Dutch shop regularly and eat fresh foods. Perhaps a reason they don't have a problem with obesity?
7) Beaches: the beach tents/cafes arrive around May and stay until September. We love this time of the year. Being able to cycle to the beach after work or school is such a joy! The North Sea may be cold but the beaches are beautiful. If the weather is good then you don't need to go abroad to holiday!
8) Shops: small individual boutiques with little treasures and one off pieces, handmade jewellery and art. Yes the big chains are here too but I love the Dutch style and fashion, offering classic pieces with a modern twist. The young girls are naturally beautiful, not orange skinned and tattooed eyebrows. Dutch people support their local businesses and because we eat fresh the baker and butcher are still thriving.
9) Family: everything here is geared towards families! Dutch children top the poles as the happiest in the world. Primary School Children are free every Wednesday afternoon and Friday afternoon (until aged 8). They are allowed to be kids, they have less pressure at school and more freedom to play.
10) Freedom: there are no limitations! The Dutch truly are laid back. You are entitled to your opinions, thoughts, feelings and they will be taken into account. Everyone has a say, children included. The Dutch don't helicopter parent. Kids are left to be kids, to explore, play and learn themselves.
Come and visit but be warned you may just choose to stay!